The National Park Service (NPS) announced on Monday that a popular road closure to allow for safer pedestrian transit will not be made permanent, leaving many residents and organizers scratching their heads.
Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic began, NPS closed a section of Beach Drive in Upper Northwest D.C. to motor vehicle traffic on weekdays so that more people could safely get fresh air and recreation in the area.
That section of road has been closed on weekends and holidays since the 1980s, and the move to shut it down throughout the week was well received. A public input session logged more that 1,800 comments in favor of keeping it that way permanently and 348 in opposition.
On Monday, however, NPS announced at a public meeting that the weekday closures would only be scheduled from Memorial Day to Labor Day every year, leaving longtime organizers of the effort perplexed.
Peter Harnik, of the People’s Alliance for Rock Creek Park, felt the decision to keep the weekday closures in place only during the summer falls short.
"They came up with this kind of, split the baby solution," he said. "There's a tremendous unanimity of public support for that, so tomorrow morning we're gonna turn on our 6,500 people and say, 'Let the park service know... that this is what you want.'"